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M State gears up for fall semester

Establishing a post-secondary education program in Park Rapids is gaining momentum as fundraising and enrollment campaigns begin for a fall semester at M State.

Classes likely would be held in the Frank White Education Center and a possibility of eight fall classes could be offered if enrollment can reach 15 students per class in:

n College Writing I

n Power & Communications in Human Relations

n Intro to Computer

n Financial Accounting I

n Customer Service

n Intro to Business

n Business Communications

n Intro to Psychology.

But those are just among the possibilities M State can provide, said David Collins, Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Director. Other leadership and management classes could be tailored to the county's work force to give employees added growth potential.

The college is amenable to suggestions for curriculum, what best fits the community, Collins suggested. It can offer a diploma, certificate, an Associate of Arts Degree or an Associate of Applied Science degree.

That would include accredited classes for high school graduates who want their basics out of the way, especially if seniors are undecided about a college or a major, Progress Park Rapids members discussed Monday morning,

Students could conceivably take their first two years of course work in Park Rapids and transfer to the college of their choice, Collins said,

But it can also give educational opportunities to students with GED diplomas and students struggling to finish high school, allowing them to further their educations, the group theorized.

The emphasis is on a broad general education with specialty studies highlighted as employers or interest groups wish.

It could be a "talent pipeline" for employers, said Ryan Zemek, development specialty with Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

"Providing education is a really big deal," said Tina Peterson, executive director of the Human Achievement & Performance Academy.

Tentative costs for tuition would run $147.95 per credit hour for both residents and non-residents. Online classes would be $199 a credit hour.

Some educational suggestions included nursing courses, hospitality and customer service courses or business and management courses tailored to the region's large employers.

"They'll do one class a year or a full spectrum," Zemek said of M State personnel he's spoken to.

And, because "community colleges don't fall off trucks," Park Rapids must keep the momentum going, Zemek urged.

A similar push began 50 years ago and never reached fruition Collins said recently in an e-mail.

"If we're not intentional about this someone will say in 2040 that we tried this," said Cliff Tweedale, executive director of Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

Community support in the way of daycare, tuition assistance, transportation assistance and employers wiling to be flexible is also needed, the group discussed.

Reaching students will be one of the group's immediate aims, along with recruiting employers and financial support.

"We need to create a mindset to educate," said financial columnist Lou Schultz. A workforce that grows through education "stays with us."

"Organizations need to be committed, not just supportive," said Tweedale.

Classes are anticipated to begin Aug. 29 with a registration deadline of Aug. 1.

Presently the M State office in Park Rapids is staffed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays in the Frank White Center.

The phone number is 218-255-4881. Four advisors have been handing inquiries.

The group anticipates one or more public forums this spring

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364